Medieval Times : In this thoughtful 4 page essay, the writer makes comparisons between the role of the stirrup (horse & saddle) during the Middle Ages and the leverage buyout of the 1980's (U.S.
Indeed, these arrangements did not even characterize what has been regarded as the prototypical feudal society of northwestern Europe from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. Recent research has traced modern conceptions of feudal service to the terms and definitions of the Libri Feudorum, an Italian legal handbook written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Its academic view of fiefs and vassals became the basis for the sixteenth-century interpretations of feudal institutions that have held sway ever since. However, this picture of feudal service and the legalistic hierarchy of landholding rights associated with it does not fit the medieval evidence. Feudum and vassus were vague and mutable terms, and European military systems from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries were far more varied, flexible, and rational than conventional interpretations have supposed.
The books The Middle Ages by Joseph Dahlmus and Feudal Society by Marc Bloch, which dives into Feudalism’s details and effects, are two prominent sources in the paper....
Politically, in the 1400's parts of Europe had a feudalistic government and feudal monarchies but overtime Europe adapted to absolute monarchies, parliamentary monarchies, and nation-states.
This was crucial during the Middle Ages since the government was still in shambles after the collapse of Rome and the feudal system was the only order that was self-sustaining in a period of chaos, thus making the Middle Ages deserving of the title Age of Feu...
At a lower level of the feudal model, the European norm has inspired numerous comparisons of the structures of warrior society—for example of Japanese landed estates with manors, and of Japanese income rights, granted to warrior families by the central government in exchange for military service, with fiefs—that often obscure the important differences between the two societies more than they illuminate their commonalities. This problem, too, is most critical in the Sengoku age, when massive daimyo armies must be explained, in the context of the feudal model, in terms of a more “impersonal and bureaucratic feudalism” than existed in Europe (J.R. Strayer, cited in Morillo 2003). “Bureaucratic feudalism” is a self-contradictory concept that dissolves on close inspection.
This tendency has afflicted Western views of Sengoku Japan, the period during the sixteenth century when Japan was divided into warring domains headed by daimyos, or local lords. The feudal model has led many historians to see the Sengoku age as the epitome of feudal breakdown and anarchy. Daimyo domains are equated with the small castellanies and lordships of northern France, the feudal kingdom (French and Japanese) taken as the unit of comparison because of the prominence of weak central authority in the feudal model. By emphasizing the division of the larger political unit, however, this view obscures important forces of unity and political cohesion that were developing within the daimyo domains during this period. Without the feudal preconception, daimyo domains appear more readily as independent polities within a Japan that is more akin to Europe as a whole than to any one kingdom within Europe.
An example of such a historical misreading is provided by the study of “feudalism” in Japan between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. The dominance in Japan from Kamakura times of a rural warrior aristocracy in the context of somewhat weak central government has long invited comparison of Japan with medieval Europe, where similar conditions prevailed. Such comparisons have almost always been cast in terms of feudalism: since the traditional model of feudalism arose from the study of western Europe, looking for feudalism elsewhere risks shoehorning non-European histories into a European mold. This raises the possibility of misreading the evidence to find anticipated feudal characteristics, or, if a different trajectory is seen, of explaining what went “wrong” in the non-European case.
Feudal property law has a definite history, but perhaps because that history is so clearly tied to the specific times, places, and legal systems that generated it, legal historians—whose stock-in-trade tends to be particulars rather than generalities—have not been tempted to see feudal property law as a transcultural historical phenomenon. The mistake for nonlegal historians is to read the legal history of high and late medieval Europe back into the political, military, and economic spheres of early medieval Europe, and then to extend that misreading to other areas of the world in the search for a general type of society.
Application of the feudal model to Japan has also invited the equating of terms that occupy apparently analogous places in the model but that may not be so similar. The comparison of samurai to knights is the best example of this: the terms knight and samurai do not designate closely similar phenomena; the class connotations of the former make it closer to the bushi of pre-Tokugawa Japan. Equating samurai and knights also implies similarities between the fighting styles and techniques of the two kinds of warrior, when in fact their tactics differed significantly—especially, again, in the Sengoku age, with its samurai armies of disciplined massed infantry formations. The case of so-called feudalism in Japan thus serves as a caution against the hasty comparison of terms and models derived too narrowly from one culture.
Legal historians of high medieval Europe, on the other hand, can more confidently lay claim to the term feudal in their sphere of inquiry: in the more settled European conditions of the twelfth century and later, the informal arrangements of an earlier age tended to crystallize into formal legal arrangements with defined terms of service and inheritance rights on the part of the vassal. This process marked the decline of “feudalism” as a viable military system, but the rise of feudalism as a fundamental legal system. Indeed, the lord-vassal tie of landholding became crucial as one of two key bonds (along with marriage, which it resembled) among the European aristocracy. The twelfth-century English system of fief law became the basis of most later English estate law and thence of modern American property law.